Museums

A place to learn about Ohio, America, and the World.

Memorial Day Road Trips

On the final Monday in May America takes the time to honor those who died in service to its armed forces. This tradition started in 1868 when former Civil War soldiers decided to decorate the graves of fallen veterans. While the custom is a long held tradition around the world, this time was different. So many soldiers had died in the recent Civil War, and so many families effected, that having a single day to do this helped to bring larger importance to the act. It wasn’t until 1971 with the enactment of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act that the day created a yearly 3 day weekend.

To honor the veterans who gave it all here are some road trip ideas that have a military background. Some can be completed in one day some might take two. A great site to learn more about Ohio historical places and come up with you own trips is http://touringohio.com

Northwest Ohio and the War of 1812:

Fallen Timbers Battlefield and Fort Miamis National Historic Site  – Fallen Timbers was the site of a major battle between American Indians and the newly formed United States of America. At the treaty of Paris in 1783 Britain gave the USA all of the land east of the Mississippi River. This include the Ohio Country. The American Indian tribes living in the area felt that they had no representation in the matter and that the land was still theirs. This led to the Battle of Fallen Timbers. At this battle American Soldiers fought the natives who were supplied by British from Fort Miamis. The defeat of the American Indians led to the Treaty of Greenville (see Garst Museum Below).

Fort Meigs – This fort with stood 2 attacks from the British and defended the Ohio country during the War of 1812. This is a full standing fort with a visitors center.

Rutherford B Hayes Presidential Library and Museum: The home and Museum of The former Civil War General and 19th President. For more information see our review.

Southwest and the Civil War

William Henry Harrison Tomb – The resting place of the 9th President and Ohio Indian Wars Veteran. He was the first president to die in office and is still the short serving person to have held the office. See our review here

National Underground Railroad Freedom Center – This museum is dedicated not only to the Underground Railroad and the struggle of American Slaves, but the struggle of all people for equality, even in modern times. The museum is a powerful testament to the struggles that lead to the Civil War.

William Howard Taft National Historic Site: The birthplace and boyhood home of the 27th President. Governor of the Philippines following the Spanish American war, Secretary of War, and Commander in Chief gives this site some great military background.  See our review here

Land of Grant Grant Birthplace and Grant Boyhood home and School House – The 18th President and commander of the Union armies during the civil war. Visit where he was born, grew up and learned. See our review here.

West

Fort Jefferson – The site where St. Clair retreated after his defeat.

Garst Museum – Dedicated to the history of Darke county this museum tells the story of the Treaty of Greenville and the role it played in shaping Ohio. A nice large museum with lots of artifacts from the area. See our review here.

Fort Recovery – The site of the two largest and most important American Indian battles, The Defeat of St. Clair and the Battle of Fort Recovery. St. Clair had 900 of his 1200 men killed, about 1/4 of the US army. It is also the site of the fort that was built after the battle. It was this fort that allowed the US to win the next battle and led to the signing of the Treaty of Greenville.

Northeast

Fort Steuben – Built to protect the surveyors of the northwest Territory. The Fort has a visitor center, full wood fort and large grounds surrounding it.

Fort Laurens – Site of the only Revolutionary War battle in the state.

McCook house – Home of the “Fighting McCooks.” Major Daniel McCook and his 9 sons and 6 nephews fought before and mostly during the Civil War.

The McKinley Presidential Library & Museum – The Tomb of William McKinley, the 25th President, and commander and chief during the Spanish-American War. Next to the tomb is the Library and Museum which house exhibits on the natural world, Stark County, and the life of the president. See our review here. 

Bears Mill

Location: 6450 Arcanum Bears Mill Rd, Greenville, OH 45331

Website: https://www.bearsmill.org

Bears Mill in Darke County is one of the last water powered mills still in operation in Ohio today. The 4 story mill has become more of a museum than a full day to day mill. The mill still mills tho.

Bear Mill has a shop on the first floor with a wide variety of kitchen utensils, pottery, decor, and ever chaining selection of art. Of course the shop also offers a selection of grains milled on site. The shop is a nice place to get a gift, or even just to get something for oneself.

The difference between Bear Mill and other local shops is in the mill itself. The mill is still in operation and during certain times one can actually see the grinding going on. When the miller is away the museum still is informational. The four floors are full of informational placards and pictures of the older days. Along with the working equipment are artifacts and items to support the story of how a mill works. One of the unique things about Bear Mill is that it has both the old buhr stone along with newer roller mills. Most mills discarded the old stones when they got the new rollers. The fact that the mill has both is a testament to the history that is preserved at the site.

Along with the beautiful mill are the acres of land surrounding it. Take a hike along the powerful Greenville Creek and see the force that drives the wheels inside. Sit and enjoy the sounds of the water and nature at the gazebo near-by.  Bears Mill has something for everyone.

Garst Museum

Garst Museum
http://garstmuseum.org/home.php
Address: 205 North Broadway, Greenville, OH 45331

What’s larger than a bread box?
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The Garst Museum in Greenville Ohio is larger than your average local history museum. This museum, while not as big as Carillon Historic ParkCleveland History Center, or the former Cincinnati History Museum, is not small. The multiple wings of the building are crammed full of interesting artifacts and history.

The museum starts by telling tp09-24-16_12-08he history of the most famous event in Darke County, the signing of the Greenville Treaty. The treaty was not signed right as either side entered the area, but after societies were built and battles fought. The museum does a great job of setting up that history. With plenty of artifacts of the time and information to describe and explain the use of the artifacts. So much information that it can almost get overwhelming. The Garst fortunately uses multimedia displays to break up the text and to give a bit of living history too.

Darke County did not end on August 3, 1795 and neither does the museum. The museum continues on to tell the story of two of the areas most famous children, Annie Oakley and Lowell Thomas. The Annie Oakley National Center houses pieces of Annie’s own effects. Not just the guns she fired as a famous sharpshooter in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show, but clothes, jewelry,  souvenirs, trophy’s and so much more. The center helps to break apart the myth of Annie Oakley as tomboy and show her real life as complicated as it was.

The Lowell Thomas section tells the life of the globe trotting man who made Lawrence of Arabia famous. The Garst Museum goes beyond the story of the desert and tells the whole life of the man from birth, with the Lowell’s Birthplace outback, to his death.

p09-24-16_12-55Most of the rest of the museum is dedicated to the history of Darke County as an average American county. Inside of small rooms set along the walls are vintages of American life. Displays of what a kitchen, beauty shop, dentist office, and more would look like are filled with actual artifacts from said places. Along with the small rooms is another large room filled with more leftover pieces. This room is a great place for grandparents to take kids and teach them about the items they saw in their grandparents houses or even used themselves.

The upstairs houses one of the best displays of military uniforms in the state. With cases of uniforms and other memorabilia from almost every war the country has been in. All donated by local citizens or their families.

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The Garst Museum in Greenville works hard to live up to the “Best History Museum” award it was given by the Ohio Magazine and it shows. This museum is a great visit for people of all ages, even if you don’t live in Darke County.

Fort Ancient

6123 St. Rt. 350
Oregonia, Ohio 45054

Website: http://www.fortancient.org/

Quick Review: Historical museum with lots of walking trails to explore more history.

Fort Ancient is a museums and grounds representing the Native American cultures which once inhabited the area. It contains a museum and surrounding grounds.

The history of the area is long and complicated. The first people to build a village at the site were the Hopewell people. They were a mound building society, which they inherited from the Adena. Some of the best examples of this are at Hopewell Culture National Historic Park. The Hopewell Culture only lasted till the 500’s. About 500 years later people of the Fort Ancient culture took over the site and used th area until the arrival of Europeans. It is because of the walls and mounds that the first archaeologist to study the area thought that the recent inhabitants had used it as a fort. Only recently has it be understood that the walls and the later village were from separate unrelated cultures.

img_0386The museum offers 9,000 sq ft of exhibit space. There are exhibits on the first Ohioans, how they used the land, their first contact with the Europeans, and the conflict which ensued. There is also a prehistoric garden, showing all the crops that would of been grown during the time There are lots of hands on exhibits.

Fort Ancient is not just a museum but also and great outdoor space. It is the largest outdoor historic site of its kind in the country. There are 2.5 miles of walking trails. These trails allow one to see the historic mounds and also the surrounding countryside.  There are two overlooks that give a great view. The trails are easily accessed from parking lots through out. The park is nice because what is learned at museum can be experienced in the natural setting. The maps and dioramas in the museums show off where everything used to be, so seeing this outside really adds to the overall experience.

Tip: Fort Ancient is worth a visit on its own, but is also part of the Ohio History Connection and is free with Membership

The 4th Hangar of The National Museum of the United States Air Force Museum

1100 Spaatz St,
Dayton, OH 45431

The National Museum of the United States Air Force is large. The NMUSAF is old. The NMUSAF is continually changing and growing trying to keep up with the technology of the Air Force.  On June 8th 2016 the museum added a fourth hangar.

The new hangar houses all of the presidential and research and development aircraft that had once been further on base. To get to them previously one had to sign up to take a guided tour. The tours were hourly and filled up fast. Once in the hangars time was limited before the buses had to return and pick up more visitors. The new hangar solves all these problems and gives the museum room to expand the collection even more.

The first thing one will notice when entering the new hangar is p06-16-16_16-191the Allan and Malcolm Lockheed and Glenn Martin Space Gallery. It is hard to miss the full size Space Shuttle Crew Compartment Trainer. While the museum was denied a real shuttle, the trainer is a nice alternative. All of the shuttles are set back from view in their respective museums. The trainer is front, center, and has great access for visitors to climb up and take a look inside. Along with the trainer are spacecraft from previous generations of space travel.  A Mercury capsule, a once top secret Gemini B capsule, and the Apollo 15th Command Module. Apollo 15 was an all Air Force member mission. Through out the 4th hangar are displays of object that might seem unrelated to the Air Force but the museum makes sure to point out the connection and explain the wide ranging reach of its branch of the armed forces.  The largest area in the Space Gallery is dedicated to spy satellites and reconnaissance recovery vehicles. The Air Force was responsible for launching cameras into space and recovering the film once the pictures were taken. In an adjoining part of the museum are some of the rockets they used. The sheer size of the cameras and film is incredible. The final section  is experiential crafts used to test the edge of space and how to get there. They segue nicely into the Research and Development Gallery.

When flown without tethers, the Avrocar was unstable and could reach top speed of only 35 mph. (U.S. Air Force photo)

When flown without tethers, the Avrocar was unstable and could reach top speed of only 35 mph. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The Maj. Gen. Albert Boyd and Maj. Gen. Fred Ascani Research and Development Gallery houses aircraft that never made it into full production. These include wacky and impractical like the famous UFO like Avrocar or helicopters powered by jets on the tips of the blades. The gallery is mostly filled with planes that were test vehicles for technology that would later go on to be come a big part of the Air Forces arsenal. The display of early unmanned aerial vehicles like the The Lockheed D-21 and Boeing YQM-94A Compass Cope B to the more modern Boeing X-45A J-UCAS help to explain the rich history of what was once thought of as sci-fi tech, but is now standard in the drone aircraft in the other hangars.

The R&D gallery leads into the The Lt. Gen. William H. Tunner Global Reach Gallery. It tells the story of how the US Air Force has grown to have a reach into all corners of the world. The gallery house aircraft such as the The C-141 “Hanoi Taxi” Starlifter. It was the first aircraft to return P.O.W.’s from the war in Vietnam.

The final and most famous gallery is The William E. Boeing Presidential Gallery. This gallery house what is arguably the most famous air craft in the entire museum. SAM – 26000 was the aircraft that was used by many presidents. It is plane that was used by John F. Kennedy on his trip to Dallas in 1963. Now known by its tail number, it once had the famous call sign Air Force One. So did almost every other plane in the gallery. Almost all of the major planes used to transport presidents from the Sacred Cow to the smaller The C-20B . Quite a few, including SAM – 26000, can be boarded and walked through.

The newest addition to the National Museum of the United States Air Force is large enough to spend half the day in itself. It is worth a visit even if one has seen the museum quite a few times. Do make sure to allow time for it and all of the rest of the galleries in what is the one greatest museums in Ohio, the nation, and the world.

Massillon Museum

Address:

121 Lincoln Way East
Massillon, Ohio 44646

Cost: Free (donation are welcome)

Website: http://www.massillonmuseum.org

We are always on the look out for another museum in Ohio. Our latest find is the  Massillon Museum. The museum has a long history. This museum is like many others and learning the history is just as fun as visiting the museum.

The Massillon Museum is open most weekdays and weekends. This museum is multi floored and full of different exhibits. There are permanent exhibits, rotating exhibits,  and some good temporary exhibits throughout the year. One we fondly remember is their famous Immel Circus Gallery. This gallery  features a 100 foot hand carved miniature circus. This is a very impressive exhibit to look at.

The second floor contained some ofRCA Megaphone and dog statue the artifacts and artwork. We saw some real great artifacts from the permanent collection when we visited. It was nice to look at older items and discover some real historic treasures.  Their seemed to be something around each corner to look at. This is not the biggest museum in Ohio, but this does not limit the museum. The collection is on a nice rotation, so repeat visits do not mean seeing the same thing each time. It takes an hour or more to see the whole museum. When we went it was free, so it was way more than worth the price to stop in while we were in the area.

The Massillon Museum also has a café and gift shop. The gift shop has lots of great history and local items for sale.

This museum is not one to miss. You can easily fit this museum into any trip.
For more of our photos of the Massillon Museum visit our Instagram page: https://www.instagram.com/randomohioreviews/

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Akron Art Museum

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Address: One South High, Akron, Ohio 44308

Website: https://akronartmuseum.org/

Rating: ****

The Akron Art Museum is another one of the great art museums in Ohio. We are always surprised by art museums in the state, some big, some small, all great. The Akron Art Museum has a history like many other museums in the world. The museum was started by many dedicated volunteers, moved a few times, had a fire, moved again, changed focus, acquired more art, and still goes strong today. Okay, maybe that is not the history exactly in order, or the same history, as other art museum. Over the years the museum has switched the focus from all art to art made from 1850 to the present. This museum might be called a modern art museum, but the focus of the museum is not that exact.

dscn2045The museum has lots of glass on the front as you enter. The glass seems added on to the old building, but this gives the museum a very open feeling. The multi levels of the building also add to this feeling.

The old building contains a small gallery dedicated to the older works. The new building houses the newer works and the temporary exhibits. The museum does a good job of having many different exhibits through out the year. The art is well laid out, not to jammed together, not spread out too much. The galleries also contain little postcards to encourage visitors to think about the art or even make some of there own.

Like many art museums, there is a free night or day, once a week or month. When we went the Akron Art Museum was offering free Thursdays. Thursdays were also open later than other days. So check out their website, to see if this is still true. If you gone on a free day, a few dollars in the donation bin is probably a good idea. Also don’t forget to patronize the Museums Gift shop. It has a lot of cool stuff including items specific to the temporary exhibits and local area.

Feline Historical Museum

Address: 260 East Main Street, Alliance, Ohio

Link: http://felinehistoricalfoundation.org/museum.html

Rating: ****

This is one the most unique museum we have ever been to. First off this museum is in an old bank building. Second the museum focus is all felines (cats). This museum is part of the The Cat Fanciers’ Association Foundation. It is nice to see this organization has a permanent home to display their collection.

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It is really hard to describe everything in the museum, but just think if something has a cat on it, this museum has it. The museum does not have live cats regularly, but does from time to time, so look to their website for dates where they will have live cats, if you really need your cat fix.

The museum proudly displays a Frank Lloyd Wright designed cat house.

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The museum also has a nice room with Maneki-Nekos. These are Japanese cat figurines that bring good luck.

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The museum also has a really nice library room filled full of books about cats. This room is a nice place to do a little research  or just look at the book titles. IMG_0226

This is really a great place to go, even if you hate cats. This place is not a place you will find anywhere else. This museum will not take long, but will keep you busy. This is a place so unique it is a must see.

CRYPTOZOHIO: Museums

cryptohio

 

Museums in Ohio house some of our oldest treasures. With these treasures come other things. Memories, value, skeletons, intrigue, wonder, strange happenings just to name a few. From tales of people still attached to the artifacts to visitors who came but never left, museums in Ohio are more than just a little strange.

Skeletons, Death masks, Hearses and more:
13267469_1626496387670226_320170361_nQuite a few museums have skeletons on display. Not old bones of animals, but skeletons of once living people. The Massillon museum has Oscar. On display since 1934 little is known of the man except that he was donated by Dr. Fred L. Rhodes, who dissected him in medical school. Another skeleton is on display at the Ragersville Historical Society. Jeff Davis was a bad man, who would not stop being bad. The citizens of Ragersville decided to stop him themselves by carrying out mob justice. This event gave the town the nickname “Hangtown”, and the museum eventually got the skeleton of a very bad man.

Not only are skeletons on display, but death mask and all forms of funeral memorabilia. In the laundry room of an East Liverpool B&B is the death mask of  Pretty Boy Flyod along with other items from the funeral home that worked on him. In West Union is a museum dedicated to the funeral profession. The William Lafferty Memorial Funeral and Carriage Collection house a few hearses and tools of the trade.

In Lima is the Allen County Museum. This local history museum house many strange and wonderful things. It has a collection of objects that have been swallowed. The museum house a strange collection of preserved animals. The Noah’s Ark displays showcase many varieties of animals along a moving conveyor belt. It also has what was once, and may still be, the world’s largest collection of Albino Animals.

Ohio History Center:
The Ohio History Center house many strange and unusual things from Ohio’s checkered past. The large collection of animals in the back of the natural history section are probably some of the most well known. Extinct animals that once roamed the land are next to specimens of ones that still do. This is home of the last Passenger Pigeon shot in the wild. Some of the strangest animals are however are not on display all the time. The museums two headed cow, or the display in the open air village with a tiger and the more exotic fare. Every once and a while the museum will bring out some it’s more controversial items, such as the Electric Chair once used by the state. When on display, and put in the proper context, one can feel the history of the items all around them. Sometimes in a good way, some times not.

National Museum of the United States Air Force
A museum which house artifacts from war and is national museum for 1/5 of the armed services is bound to have some ghosts in it. In the WWII exhibit ghost are said to haunt the planes they once flew. The Lady B Good’s entire crew is said to haunt the area surrounding it’s memorial stain glass window. Near by the plane is also said to be haunted, but it could just be the crew from the Lady mistaking it , the same model of plane, as their own.  One or two planes have even been said to be “piloted” by ghost who are trying to finish their las mission. Additionally almost all of the Prisoner of War sections of the museum seem to have an eerie feel about them. Almost as if those who never returned have found away back.

This museum is more than just ghost stories though. On July 8th, 1947 something crashed outside of a farm in Roswell, New Mexico. Was it a spy balloon or something else? Some stories say that what ever was found was transfered to the base and stored in Hangar 18. The Base also has stories surround it and the technology it houses. It is said that it has reverse engineered alien tech and that the owners are coming back to claim it.

Cleveland Museum of Art: 
This is one of those big, expanded art museums. The type where the new building is built around the old one. This is also one of those old art museums which just celebrated it’s 100 birthday. With that much history something weird is bound to happen.  In one of the galleries battery powered lights will suddenly turn off only to go back on after the leave. The person in Portrait of Jean-Gabriel du Theil at the Signing of the Treaty of Vienna  has been said to stare at himself at night. The gallery in which this painting hung was said to have problems until the painting was put in storage. Finally former director William Mathewson Milliken has been said to visit the 1916 gallery from time to time.

Cincinnati Museum Center / Union Terminal: 
Union Terminal is being repaired. This is causing havoc to the Museum inside. The question that this leaves unanswered is “What will happen to the visitors that never leave?” The terminal has a long storied past, first as the original site of Pro Baseball, Then as a major train station for the armed forces leaving for war during WWII, and now as a museum center. In the back section, near the tracks, loved ones of those who never returned from war can be heard crying and waiting to this day for them to return. During a break in in 1989 a security guard was killed. She is said to still patrol the grounds hoping to prevent another break in.

While extensive this is just a quick look in to the strange and wondrous site around Ohio. Most museums in the state have some stories of their own.

Woodland Cemetery – Dayton Ohio

118 Woodland Avenue, Dayton, OH 45409-2892

http://www.woodlandcemetery.org
This is a review of a cemetery. As with all cemeteries respect for the past, present, and future is required.

Woodland Cemetery is one of the most historic cemeteries in the state of Ohio.With hillside paths winding through the namesake woods and a large lake in the back Woodland is not just historic but one of the prettiest place in the city too.

Opened in 1842 and with over 170 years of history to it’s name. Woodland Cemetery is one of the most historic places in the city of Dayton. Most of the buildings are on the National Registry of Historic Places. The history also flows on to the grounds with it’s century old tress and large list of famous people laid to rest there.

100_2541Quite a few nationally known people are buried there. Orville and Wilbur Wright, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Erma Bombeck ,  Charles Kettering to name a few. The list of local celebrities buried in the cemetery is even bigger. Former mayors, sports figure, inventors, actors, gypsies, and others are all interned there. Most of the major streets in the Dayton are named after a person in the cemetery. John Patterson has a hillside plot. James Ritty, the man who’s invention made Patterson famous, is just on the other side. Almost every location in the cemetery has a view of one famous person or another.

The natural beauty of the place is another reason it is so famous. More than 3,000 trees grace the cemetery. 9 of them being Ohio Champions. They are big and beautiful through out the entire property. In the fall they give one of the best glimpses of Ohio foliage in the city. The large hills provide excellent views of surrounding area. Woodland Cemetery houses the highest point in the city of Dayton. The hill has been turned into Lookout Terrace. The terrace is a great place to get a view of the city or of the grounds. As with most of the cemetery grounds the walk is quite strenuous with roads going up and down in both directions. There is a road that leads to the top of the hill for cars to drive, but parking can be a problem.

Tours are offered quite often. There are a lot of tour options available. Tours of the nature of the cemetery, Tours of the famous people, Tours of the Historic landmarks, and many more are offered. Some are self guided, with plenty of brochures and maps available.  Some are guided by a tour guide. The guided tours often fill up fast, especially in the fall.

If in the Dayton Area and looking for a good walk through the history of not just Dayton but the world, visit Woodland cemetery. This should be on everybody’s Dayton must do list.